|The PEAC Ascent|
The newsletter of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center
|10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd. |
Portland, OR 97219-7799
In this issue of the PEAC Ascent, we'll bring you up to speed on some of our most active cases and introduce this year's PEAC class. We've had an especially heavy docket this year, and are delighted to have such gifted, passionate students working with us.
With best wishes for a fantastic spring,
Allison, Aubrey, Dan M., Dan R., Karen, and Tom
Can We Have Cleaner Air, Sooner?
the Latest in the PGE Boardman Case
continues to represent five local, regional and national organizations in their
fight to protect public health and the environment from pollution they allege
is illegal at Portland General Electric's (PGE) coal-fired power plant in
Boardman, Oregon. The Boardman plant is the largest single source of air and
global warming pollution in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
reports that the Boardman power plant emits about six percent of Oregon's total
greenhouse gas emissions per year.
announced a plan to transition Boardman off of coal in 2020. While our
clients give it some credit for trying to lessen the plant's greenhouse gas
emissions - which burden Oregon with five million tons of carbon dioxide each
year, PGE has stated that it will only transition the plant in 2020 if their
efforts to get revisions and exemptions to state and federal air quality rules
requiring pollution controls are successful.
If required to install a scrubber anytime before 2020, instead of
transitioning early, PGE will continue to operate the plant until 2040 and
beyond. PGE is currently seeking approval for both the 2020 plan and $500
million investments in pollution controls to maintain the plant until 2040 and
beyond from the Public Utility Commission.
clients care deeply about global warming and the health and environmental
problems associated with pollution from coal such as sulfur dioxide,
particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. We share these concerns and will continue to work toward a resolution
that will protect Oregon's public health
and special places as well as help prevent catastrophic climate change - all
while avoiding an undue burden on electricity customers and providing a fair
and reasonable transition for plant
workers and their communities. While this is a tall order, with PEAC's
help, our clients are forging the way to a safer, cleaner energy future for
Proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline Could Pose a Serious Threat to Salmon
PEAC is representing a coalition of national, regional and
local groups who oppose efforts to site a liquefied natural gas
("LNG") import terminal on the Columbia River about 35 miles upstream
from the river's mouth near Bradwood Landing, Oregon. Our coalition's efforts are a key part of a multi-faceted legal strategy on the local, state, and federal
levels to fight the pipeline's development.
Our suit contends that this proposed terminal would harm
water quality and aquatic habitat in the Columbia River estuary, which provides
critical habitat for threatened juvenile salmon species. One of PEAC's clients,
Columbia Riverkeeper, emphasizes this point: "The proposed LNG projects
and pipelines would cross thousands of Oregon rivers, streams and wetlands,
threaten salmon, and seriously degrade key habitats in the Columbia Estuary
(and) Coos Bay. For example, in addition to degrading over 58 acres of critical
habitat for Columbia River salmon, 1,000-foot long tankers for the Bradwood
Landing LNG project would intake more than 15 billion gallons a year of
Columbia River water as ballast to weigh down empty and outgoing LNG tankers.
These massive water withdrawals would kill or injure many thousands of juvenile
PEAC's clients charge that the procedures used by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") to evaluate and approve
LNG facilities seriously undermine the Clean Water Act's requirements and the
individual state's ability to enforce water quality standards. In September
2008, FERC approved the Bradwood LNG proposal. In its brief, PEAC argues that FERC's approval
order conspicuously ignored the express requirement in Section 401 of the Clean
Water Act that such a proposal must first receive a certificate from the
responsible state authorities indicating that the proposal complies with state
water quality standards. FERC issued its approval before Oregon or Washington
had issued the required certifications under Section 401. PEAC also alleges in
its suit that FERC's approval also violated similar requirements in the
Endangered Species Act and Coastal Zone Management Act, and that FERC's
analysis of the proposal's impacts also seriously underestimated its adverse
effects on aquatic resources.
In February 2009 PEAC sought direct review before the 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals of FERC's approval of this terminal.
PEAC students Anzie Nelson, C.J. Eder and Heather Vaughn
helped PEAC Managing Attorney Tom Buchele draft PEAC's brief and prepare the 10
volume Excerpts of Record. Anzie, C. J. and Heather each researched and drafted
an important section of the brief and Heather, in particular, spent many hours
gathering the materials for the Excerpts of Record.
FERC is scheduled to file its responsive brief in April, and
PEAC will submit a reply brief in early June.
Gill netters protesting at the proposed terminal site.
(photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper)
|Meet PEAC's 2009-2010 Class|
Back row, l-r: Lyndsey Bechtel, Bryan Telegin, Heather Vaughn, Andrew Newkirk, Brett Hartl, Genevieve Byrne, Ben Luckett, John Sturm, CJ Eder, Jeffrey Crider. Front row, l-r: Anzie Nelson,Tara Zuardo, Sara Ghafouri, Adele Ewert. Not pictured: Mitchell Tsai
| ||Neighbors for Clean Air & PEAC Team Up|
by Mary Peveto, Mother & Citizen Activist
This issue of the PEAC Ascent features our first guest article by a client.
We were so impressed by Neighbors for Clean Air's resolve to bring about positive change
for its families that we asked Mary Peveto, the group's founder, to tell
you--in her own words--about her neighborhood's fight for clean air.
Last February I was a stay-at-home mom, busy enough with
managing a household and resettling in Portland after years out of the state
and out of the country. By March I had become an industrial air toxins
activist. I had stumbled across a national study indicating that my daughters'
school was in the top 2% of schools with the nation's worst air quality.
I regaled a cousin who has worked on climate change policy
for major corporations and for city governments about my "power of the
people story" of fighting large industry: the letter writing campaign, the
petition, the large town hall meeting in the elementary school auditorium. I
shared our community's sense of betrayal at the hands of the government agency
responsible for the regulation of polluters, and the seemingly insurmountable
hurdles of economics and powerful interests that citizens are up against. I
asked, "What should we do?" She answered immediately: "Get
really good lawyers."
Luckily for our citizen campaign, the lawyers came to
At our first community meeting, 50 concerned neighbors
discussed what to do about the industrial air pollution in our backyard. We
heard from long-time activists who had fought the presence of industrial toxins
in the neighborhood for decades. Frustration and resignation threatened to
prevail, particularly because the company in question complied with regulatory
obligations, with no record of gross violations or upsets. As the meeting drew
to a close, a young man raised his hand and explained how he worked with an
environmental law advocacy organization at Lewis & Clark. He said,
"We've been looking at the permit for this company and studied some of the
calculations. There might be discrepancies."
Future assessments of our efforts may determine that moment
was as important to us as the on-side kick at the opening of the second half
was to the Saints. As citizens, we generally understand -and best articulate-
the broad strokes of our own experience: billowing smokestacks, black dust
covering our porches, odors which -no matter how offending - have become almost
routine; but at that moment it became clear: the real power is in the ability
to decipher the arcane and inaccessible language of the state-issued Title V
Air permits. And, more importantly, to determine if within that language
resides the intent and the spirit of the Clean Air Act.
Aubrey Baldwin, one of the staff attorneys of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center
came to work on the ESCO Title V permit renewal, representing neighbors and
Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the balance of power has shifted at
least to even the playing field. Citizens now have a stronger voice that gives
us the power to exercise our rights in the regulatory process and to air our
concerns in an informed and effective way. In our story, PEAC fulfills a unique
role: providing the legal hammer and oversight in the regulatory process, even
in absence of gross or obvious infractions. The leadership that Ms. Baldwin
brings is invaluable to protecting the rights, and the lungs, of the citizens
| ||Student Spotlight: Tara Zuardo|
In each issue of the PEAC Ascent,
we like to spotlight a
current PEAC student to illustrate the dedication our students have to
bigger than themselves. This spring, we talked with San Francisco Bay
native Tara Zuardo. Tara is using her time at PEAC to learn to apply the
Endangered Species Act and strengthen her long-term goal of working in
field of Animal Law.
Why did you choose Lewis & Clark Law School?
My goal has always been to go into Animal Law, so Lewis &
Clark was my first choice, especially since it has so many specialized,
practical courses in both Environmental and Animal Law, like PEAC.
Why were you interested in PEAC?
While taking Professor Rohlf's Wildlife Law class in my
second year, I became interested in endangered species issues and how the
Endangered Species Act could specifically be used in the field of Animal Law.
I'm also the type of learner who needs practical experience in order to learn a
subject, and the clinic was obviously very well-run and taught by staff
attorneys who genuinely enjoy working with students and who are amazing,
What are you working on in PEAC?
All of my assignments thus far have addressed the Endangered Species Act. I
have worked on some really interesting litigation and oral argument preparation
related to grizzly bear and vernal pool habitat protection, as well as bald
eagle listing petitions.
Favorite educational moment at PEAC?
It's difficult to choose just one moment! I have had some great opportunities
to learn how the Endangered Species Act is practically applied and litigated
through the various moot courts I've done with Professor Rohlf in preparation
for 9th Circuit arguments. Actually having to come up with an argument for a
case has clarified certain complex sections of laws like the Endangered Species
Act that were otherwise unclear from just reading textbooks. PEAC also provides
an excellent opportunity for students to make the connection between how their
supervising attorney explains a particular subject to them as a teacher, and
then how that attorney explains that same subject to a judge in a court. It
really is the best way for students to learn how to become attorneys and use
arguments to convince a court.
How do you think PEAC experience will impact your future goals?
It's hard for me to imagine what students who haven't had a class like PEAC do
when they have to, for example, write a brief for the first time after they
graduate, especially in Environmental Law, where litigation can be so complex
and science-based. This class has taken me to that next step of feeling
prepared and confident to dive into these issues. It's also provided me with a
real education in subjects like Civil Procedure which seemed so elusive and
abstract when I learned about them in class two years ago. But perhaps the most
useful lesson has been on how politics and litigation work off of each other.
Thanks to PEAC, I have a greater appreciation of how important agency policy is
in addition to litigation, and my future goals will therefore be more
interdisciplinary to address policy in producing change.
What are your post-graduate goals?
My goal is to use my legal education to obtain a job in wildlife and animal
conservation, policy, and protection. In the long term, I hope that I can put
my experience to use by founding a nonprofit involved in wildlife rescue,
education, advocacy, and litigation.
Not Yet a Supporter? Please Join Us!
In addition to training the next generation of
environmental advocates, PEAC provides pro bono legal
representation for environmental organizations in the region.
As a self-funded clinic, we rely on the generosity of individuals, foundations
and local businesses to help us deliver expert services to PEAC students
and clients. Your contributions are critical to sustaining PEAC and its
commitment to protect the natural resources of the Pacific Northwest
Click Here to Donate Online.
Click Here for more ways to give to PEAC.
in 1996, PEAC is the domestic environmental legal clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School
in Portland, Oregon. Our staff of six is passionate about achieving two goals: using
the law to protect and restore the environment, and producing highly skilled
environmental advocates by providing law students with real-world experience
working on important cases.
provides free legal services for nonprofit conservation organizations. Our
clients range from small grassroots groups - the Northwest Environmental
Defense Center, for example - to large national groups such as the Sierra Club
and the Center for Biological Diversity. Regardless of size and geographic
scope, our clients rely on our services as a key legal tool to help secure
needed environmental protections, both due to the quality of our legal
representation and because there are few non-profit, pro bono law firms in the Northwest.
As Lewis & Clark Law School's environmental legal
clinic, PEAC also provides hands-on legal experience to law students and summer
clerks. We educate and train the next generation of public interest
environmental attorneys, who receive valuable experience in client contact,
legal research, drafting legal briefs and even arguing cases in court. Many
of PEAC's former students now work for local, regional and national
conservation organizations; others work for a variety of governmental entities
to implement and enforce environmental laws. By providing students with legal
experience they do not get from textbooks, PEAC helps ensure that the
environmental community and those charged with carrying out laws to protect the
environment will continue to have excellent legal representation in the future.